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Remote working is causing data security concerns during the pandemic

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At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, after lockdown measures were announced, our MD and data protection specialist Kingsley Hayes warned that careful consideration around data security was paramount for home working. He said that, as businesses started to navigate the unprecedented crisis, it was essential that they recognised the increased risks around data protection for employees working outside the office environment. He also recommended that organisations of all shapes and sizes implemented simple measures to mitigate the risk of a data breach.

But, while some businesses adapted their working practices to keep staff and clients safe while maintaining business as usual, not everyone paid attention to the warnings. And, a new report reveals that a staggering 46% of global businesses have encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since shifting to a remote working model during lockdown.

The survey by Barracuda Networks looked at over 1,000 business decision-makers in the UK, US, France and Germany. The findings revealed that 51% of organisations had seen an increase in phishing attacks since shifting to remote working (48% in the UK). Even worse, 41% admitted to reducing their cybersecurity budget to save money when tackling the pandemic.

Appropriate security measures must be established to reduce data security concerns during the pandemic

Commenting on the findings, Kingsley said:

"It's not surprising that organisations are facing increased risk. Many rushed to implement home-working and didn't think about the increased vulnerability of this model. But, while this is understandable in the short-term, data privacy is not something customers are willing to sacrifice. And nor should they have to.

"As we move towards a new normal - whatever that might look like - commercial survival will rely on the ability of organisations to adapt quickly. So, cybersecurity must remain a priority concern.

"Data protection challenges are not going away. Indeed, the stats show that they are only going to increase. And with none of us knowing what the future looks like, organisations must find ways to meet their legal obligations. Especially as many plan to continue widespread remote working even after the crisis is over".

Human error is the leading cause of data breaches

The vast majority of data breaches take place due to human error. So, to prevent violations, organisations must have a mobile working policy in place. And they must ensure that all staff are aware of the increased risks, and that everyone adopts the relevant security measures.

Kingsley added:

"Data security doesn't have to be difficult. Simple steps such as limiting remote access to files, encrypting data and making sure employees don't use personal email addresses and devices to conduct company work can prevent costly mistakes.

"And, the value of investing in regular staff training and data protection awareness programmes cannot be underestimated. Both at this critical time and beyond. Because, while the way in which businesses operate has changed, their data protection obligations remain the same."

You can listen to Kingsley talking about the COVID-19 impact on data protection and the risks facing businesses in GDPR Now! The podcast looks at current topics in GDPR and all things privacy.


For more advice on how to keep your data safe, follow Hayes Connor onTwitterandFacebook. Alternatively, if you have been the victim of a data breach or cyber fraud,find out how we can help you to recover any losses. Or give us a call to discuss your case in more depth.